Fast-Track to the Future of Finance and Accounting | HCLTech

Fast-track to the future of F&A

February 08, 2022
Sameer Ahluwalia


Sameer Ahluwalia
Vice President, Global lead – Growth Practices and Capabilities, DPO
February 08, 2022

The last two years have been a time for rapid innovation and adaptation for finance and accounting services. The combined pressures of an increasingly competitive marketplace and the challenges of the new normal have led to a paradigm shift across the industry. But this is only the beginning. The pandemic has shown how quickly our expectations and planning can fall apart. Therefore, businesses must ensure that their finance and accounting function remains robust and resilient for an uncertain future.

Rising burdens on financial leaders

As the new normal begins to take shape, a few things are becoming ever more important to business success. This includes preparing for greater competition, managing larger transactional volumes, working with leaner operations, eliminating revenue leaks, improving cash flows, enhancing reporting accuracy, minimizing reconciliation times while also leveraging data and insights. This is a tall order even in the best of times.

As a result, the financial leaders are facing greater pressures with the increasing complexity and scale of responsibilities. The need to be faster, smarter, and more resilient, delivering on customer expectations, and enhancing the customer experience has never been higher. To achieve these results, businesses have begun to rapidly undertake digital transformation initiatives, not only within their own operations but also from their partners and service providers.

But this wholesale shift toward digitalization hasn’t been as smooth a journey as leaders would have liked. It has been slowed by numerous obstacles, such as shortfalls in skills and knowledge, resistance in leadership culture and mindset, and efficient adoption of next-generation technologies. Modern leaders must cut through these challenges by streamlining their digitalization efforts in their back-offices, so they can better support core business operations.

Value-added outsourcing for F&A

Financial leaders today require digital partners that go well beyond the traditional BPO mandate and provide genuine solutions for innovation. In fact, truly effective BPO partners in the finance and accounting space are expected to play a major role in not only improving operational processes but also providing strategic value to the digital goals of their F&A customers. This kind of value can only be delivered if the partner possesses advanced next-generation technological capabilities with a 360-degree customer experience understanding.

These partners need to bring a range of technical expertise while also having demonstrable experience in the financial domain. With such a combination of capabilities, they can provide the right solutions and add value to digital strategy as well. Such an effective combination can help finance leaders supercharge their F&A outsourcing outcomes with greater efficiency and compliance across key areas, such as account consolidation, reporting, tax processing, managing contracts, and much more. The most effective technical capability for achieving these goals is of course machine learning, automation, and cognitive intelligence, as they can offset manual efforts and liberate resources for high-value work.

Automation in F&A

Financial and accounting functions must design their digital transformation around artificial intelligence, cognitive intelligence, and machine learning for maximum advantage. Outsourcing partners with proven expertise in these areas can ensure solutions customization and help generate new cost savings while also improving customer experience. With a cost-optimized, cloud-based automation solution, businesses can reduce their capital expenditure for more flexible and agile operations that leverage platformed solutions.

This not only includes robotic process automation (RPA) for reducing manual effort and errors at scale but also empowering the human workforce. The holistic application of robotic process automation and cognitive intelligence technologies can help businesses drive greater focus on service delivery and client fulfillment. By automating back-end systems with bot solutions, businesses can ensure 24/7 customer service at a fraction of the cost, while minimizing their human resources costs which are expended only on exceptional customer cases.

As these solutions become more integrated across the organization, greater efficiencies can be unleashed. Along with offloading large volume transactions and reporting to automated technologies, these solutions can empower human workers in finance and accounting functions to be more productive and innovation-oriented. With the rising competitiveness and complexity of the industry, automation and cognitive solutions are essential to bringing the benefits of data and insights into the hands of decision-makers faster with greater accuracy.

The road ahead

This will eventually lead to a shift in human-machine collaboration by adding value to the business as automation and cognitive solutions continue to become more intuitive and natural. As a result, financial leaders and decision-makers will no longer rely on technical dashboards to derive insights, but rather to a digital colleague with whom they can brainstorm and discuss problems. The future of digitalization in finance and accounting is ripe for leveraging next-generation solutions which will transform business functions.

Enterprise leadership needs to stay one step ahead of the market by understanding how the finance and accounting market is transforming in the new era.

Enterprise leadership must stay one step ahead of the market by understanding the digital transformation in the finance and accounting market. This includes market shifts, changing scope of service engagements, the uncertainty in talent acquisition, and the best methods to have automation and cognitive technology first digital transformation.

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